Downsized to a Condo—Help!

Decorating Dilemma:


The main living spaceDear Style Studio,

My husband and I just purchased a downtown condo for a lifestyle change since both of our daughters will be away in college this fall. We want our living/family room to have a pulled together look and would love your help!

The room is 15’9″ x 24′ and is open to the kitchen. There is space and can-lighting for a dinette that we would rather incorporate into one larger living area. These measurements include that space and there is a hallway opening on the bottom left looking toward the windows and a balcony door on the top left that swings out.

The furniture you see is what remains of our favorite pieces (except the sofa). We will definitely replace the sofa (aren’t opposed to a sectional or sofa with chaise) and love the Graham collection. I like the position of our Ballard club chairs and ottoman. Their position offers the perfect spot for a relaxing view.

My style has morphed a bit over the years. We have gone through Tuscan and rustic phases. I am leaning more now to an urban chic look without being too contemporary or modern. I do still love a warm, comfortable, earthy room.

Here lies my dilemma as we refurnish and decorate our new place.

From a practical standpoint, I have considered adding your Tribeca or Hampton bench with a table for dining and working when I work from home without being too typical. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore “Sierra Hills.” I would have preferred a warm grey or taupe but like this color too.

I appreciate help you can offer.

Thanks – Marsha


View from the KitchenLiving RoomOne of our favorite pieces


Style Studio Solution:


Dear Marsha,

First, we love the idea of a sectional to take advantage of your space. We suggest one that is about 120″ long. A track arm style (like the Graham) will be a nice contrast to the other arm styles you have in the room. The coffee table should tuck nicely into the L of the sectional and the leather chair can pull up to it as well (you may not have room for the ottoman – try it and see). The sectional would look great in a bright white or in a simple neutral fabric.

Zoom in to see more details

Next, we suggest adding some contemporary art to bring some color into the space as well as some height. The prints shown on the attachment are about 6 feet tall, so they make quite a statement. Layering in two leather (or upholstered) cubes in front of them in a fun color is a practical idea because you can drag those cubes anywhere in the room for extra seating or to use as a side table or ottoman.

We loved your idea of the Hampton Bench. Upholstering it in a pattern will add some life to the space. We gave the suggestion of a pretty bold ikat pattern that would look amazing with the art. Whatever fabric you select, pick a color out of it and use that for throw pillows on your sectional. Get at least 5 so it makes a real statement. Layering a small garden seat in front of the Hampton Bench is going to keep it from feeling like everything in the room is pushed up against a wall, plus it’s a practical place to set a drink or laptop. We like the Union Floor Lamp next to the bench. It has an oversized shade that feels very current.

Over your bar we’ve put a round mirror (accented with your cute iron lantern in front). Go sleek with the Bellesol Mirror or if you want to add a little textural contrast, choose the Oversized Sunburst Mirror. Either would be gorgeous there. In front of the bar we like the idea of a long, narrow table that you can sit at to do a little work or have a snack. Partnering the Chianni Table in Belgian Oak with the Savern Bench would be gorgeous, topping it all off with the modern Eldridge Pendant. The pendant is so open, it won’t block you’re pretty view. You could try your leather bench as an option instead of the Savern but it might look a little heaving – perhaps reposition it at the foot of your bed.

Zoom in to see more details.

On the bottom shelf of the console below your TV we suggest lining up 3-5 of the Suzanne Kasler Lamp Slips. They will make a striking, sculptural statement.

Use your existing round tables as side tables and add small accents lamps on them if they fit (the more lighting, the better). A few more accent lamps will finish out your space. We suggest the Brooklyn Lamp to arch up over your sofa and give a modern feel to the room. Two Jeffrey lamps tucked behind your chairs by the windows will balance it all out visually.

We hope this helps you get started. Have fun and send us some photos of your project when it’s done!

The Style Studio Team

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    October 7, 2012

    Looks great!! Nice job!

  2. Reply


    September 5, 2012

    Fantastic design!!…hope that Marsha sends pics of the final area… can’t wait to get home and send you my dilemma….

  3. Reply


    August 23, 2012

    I can’t believe you took so much time and effort to plan a space for someone who wrote in. It looks great!